“For me, this work is all about building power in low-income communities. I became a true believer in democracy the first time I saw the energy and excitement of low-income communities coming together and realizing they could win real change for their children and their neighbors.”
As a managing attorney, Richard A. Marcantonio leads Public Advocates’ transportation, housing and climate justice advocacy and litigation team. His deep knowledge of both affordable housing and transportation equity makes him a valued interdisciplinary advocate. As California reforms its approach to regional planning for land use and transportation, Richard is working with coalitions around the state to ensure that laws calling for greenhouse gas emission reductions are implemented to bring benefits, rather than added burdens, to low-income communities and communities of color.
Richard has worked tirelessly to challenge discriminatory funding patterns that deny low-income and minority communities equal access to basic transit services. From our class-action lawsuit against the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission on behalf of East Bay residents who rely on eroding bus service, to our groundbreaking Title VI administrative complaint convincing the federal government to withhold $70 million from the BART Oakland Airport Connector, Richard has helped make transportation a civil rights priority. He has also worked to ensure that local governments meet their obligation to accommodate their fair share of the region’s need for affordable housing.
Richard has served as lead counsel in a number of affordable housing cases, including Osorio v. City of Pittsburg, Fonseca v. City of Gilroy, and Urban Habitat Program v. City of Pleasanton and Peninsula Interfaith Action et al. v. City of Menlo Park. Richard was also co-counsel in Williams v. City of Antioch, a successful challenge to discriminatory policing of African-American families who participate in the federal Section 8 housing assistance program.
In the area of transportation justice, he was co-counsel in Darensburg v. Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a federal civil rights class action on behalf of minority bus riders who have seen service cut as a result of inadequate funding, and represented the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union in Labor/Community Strategy Center v. Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Before coming to Public Advocates, Richard served as director of litigation at Legal Aid of the North Bay for nine years, specializing in housing issues in Marin and Napa Counties. Richard was lead counsel for intervenors in Home Builders Association of Northern California v. City of Napa, which established the validity of “inclusionary zoning.” He was lead counsel in Marin Family Action v. Town of Corte Madera, a challenge to the housing element of the Town of Corte Madera, and in a suit against a Napa slumlord for equitable relief and damages on behalf of nearly 500 Napa farm workers and their families. Richard has also practiced civil and appellate litigation at the Howard, Rice law firm and clerked for the Hon. Robert L. Carter, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York.
Richard received his A.B. from Princeton University in 1982. He graduated cum laude and Order of the Coif from New York University School of Law in 1987, where he was articles editor of the N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change, and represented low-income clients at N.Y.U.’s Urban Law Clinic and Unemployment Action Center.
- 2021 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year, Daily Journal
- 2013 Genesis/Gamaliel Network Carl Anthony Legacy Award
- 2011 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year, California Lawyer Magazine
- 2010 Legal Aid Association of California’s Attorney Award of Merit